WASHINGTON, D.C. – The rapid growth of Internet connected TVs and other “smart” video devices, combined with the growing array of services that permit consumers to view video programming when and where they want it, demonstrates that that marketplace is meeting consumer demand – all of which could be jeopardized by government technology mandates, NCTA President & CEO Kyle McSlarrow today wrote in a letter (linked below) to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski.

McSlarrow pointed to the dozens of recent business arrangements from multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs) – cable, satellite and telco TV providers – leading up to and at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show which “emerged to meet consumer demand without any technology mandate or regulatory guarantee.”  He said that, “allowing MVPDs the continued flexibility to innovate in network technology, delivery systems, and interface solutions is essential in a dynamic market with rapidly changing technology and consumer demand.”

“The fact that tens of millions of tablets, game consoles, Internet-connected TVs, and other smart, video-capable devices have been sold and will be sold means that the Commission no longer needs to ‘create’ a retail market for navigation devices,” McSlarrow’s letter says.  “Instead, the Commission should focus on ‘keeping the runway clear’ of impediments and unnecessary rules that could slow these exciting developments.”

The “astonishing progress” in rapidly increasing video choices and accelerating competition and innovation in the retail market for smart video devices includes:

  • Video services from Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Verizon are being offered as retail applications on televisions, tablets, PCs, and gaming devices, including those manufactured by Samsung and Sony.
  • More than 118 million Internet-connected TVs are expected to be sold by 2014, and competing smart video devices and game consoles offer video services from MVPDs and over-the-top video providers, including Netflix, YouTube, and Hulu.
  • Several video providers are now offering “TV Everywhere” online services for Internet-connected devices without the need for a “gateway,” and their set-top boxes are beginning to combine TV and web content.
  • Secure home networks are being used to collect video content from a variety of sources to be shared with Internet-connected TVs, game consoles, PCs, and mobile devices.
  • New video interfaces are emerging as smart phones are blurring the lines between the mobile and big screen experience, and new digital rights technology will provide consumers new opportunities to buy content from multiple vendors and enjoy it on a variety of Internet-connected devices.
  • Video providers, including Charter, Cox, and Suddenlink, and device manufacturers like TiVo are working together on unique programming distribution agreements, combining the retail device and MVPD service experience. 

“The market is in a period of intense experimentation.  No one knows exactly how services will be designed or which approaches will succeed,” McSlarrow said.

“The fierce competition among MVPDs and the emergence of so many new competitive video service providers will assure that this furious pace of innovation will only intensify further – if that diversity is not undermined by unnecessary one-size-fits-all and other harmful government technology mandates,” McSlarrow said.

Instead of mandating specific technical requirements that could stifle innovation in this dynamic marketplace, the Commission could use cable’s consumer device video principles – which were first submitted to the FCC in March 2010 –to assess and promote innovation in video devices, McSlarrow said. 

# # #